Teachers give top marks to ‘inspiring’ literacy trail

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Teachers have given top marks to an improved woodland literacy trail designed to boost children’s reading and writing skills.

They gave a resounding vote of approval during a celebration day to launch the updated trail at Goytre Wharf, beside the Brecon to Monmouth canal just north of Pontypool.

The literacy trail, which aims to bring out the story teller and writer in children, first opened in 2005 with the support of Forestry Commission Wales, British Waterways, Monmouthshire County Council and Careers Wales/Education Business Links.

Over the past year new sculptures designed by John Hobbs and Rhys Harris have been added along the 1,230 metre circular route in the beautiful Goytre woods, which are managed by Forestry Commission Wales.

An updated information pack has also been designed by teachers for teachers with new ideas and activities to enrich the literacy curriculum for children aged from three to 11 years old.

Teachers from Gwent schools, the Literacy Advisor from Newport City Council and a member of the education service for Torfaen County Borough Council joined 18 children aged from seven to 11 from Ringland Primary School, Newport to try out the new-look trail.

Carol Davies, of Raglan Primary, Monmouthshire, said, “The new trail has lots of brilliant ideas that can be adapted and used in our own school grounds. 

“This will undoubtedly encourage the children to use and learn literacy in the outdoors, while helping them to develop wonderful social skills.”

Tara Gooding, of Pentrepoeth Primary, Newport. said the activities were “inspiring and provide concrete, visual stimulus for language development”, while Pauline Beckett, of Caerleon Endowed Juniors, Newport, said thev trail “increased standards of literacy through increased opportunities for oracy.”

Janet Kilbane, of Gaer Infants, Newport, said, “This has been extremely useful and very good fun. The trail encourages lots of use of language, which can be used to enhance the writing of pupils.”

The celebration day to re-launch the literacy trail was hosted by members of the Forestry Commission Wales Woodlands for Learning team, who organised activities and games to demonstrate the trail’s unique educational qualities.

The trail was originally a Forest Education Initiative (FEI) project and members from the Monmouthshire FEI cluster group penned a special story for the updated trail and developed learning activities to stimulate children’s imagination.

The Woodlands for Learning team also provided additional material for the trail, which is open all year round for teachers and the public to explore and use.

Forestry Commission Wales education officer Cathy Velmans said, “This improved trail is a tremendous asset for teachers involved in the literacy curriculum.

“By offering a stimulating outdoor learning environment, the trail helps to unlock children’s imaginations, enabling them to develop their reading and writing skills in a way which is not possible in the classroom.”

More information about the trail can be found at

Caption: Children from Ringland Primary School, Newport beside a witch’s sculpture during the official launch of the re-vamped literacy trail.


A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Government.

Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.

The Woodlands for Learning team delivers woodland-based learning experiences throughout Wales, supports the development and delivery of Forest School and facilitates the Forest Education Initiative on behalf of its partners.

For more information about the literacy trail, contact FC Wales education officers Cathy Velmans on 0300 068 0115, email or Juliette Staples on 0300 068 0300, email

More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

Visit News@FCWales for news, images, press office contact details and links to case studies.

Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email